AND THEN AGAIN by Tamara Pettit

…..Gov. Justice extended his power beyond the State Code last week when he intervened in the process to select a new delegate to fill a vacancy. The resignation of newly-elected Republican Delegate Derrick Evans after Evans participated in the mob at the Capital, created that vacancy. The process for picking a replacement is quite clear. The county executive Committee (in this case Wayne County) selects three names to submit to the Governor. The three are selected by a vote of the executive committee members from names submitted. The Governor chooses from among those three.. Why does the party executive committee select the names? Because the Dem/Rep/ affiliation controls the legislative majority in the House and the Senate. Why is it done by vote of the members? Because we are Democracy.
….The procedure only deviates when a district includes two (or more counties) in which case the County Executive Committees each appoint members to serve on the selection committee. In Wayne County the delegate district sat completely within the County. Three names were submitted by the County Republican Executive Committee: Ross, Shaffer and Marcus. The names did not include Joshua Booth, whom the Governor wanted. The Governor’s legal counsel, said the local executive committee’s choice did not go through the State Republican Executive Committee and the State Republican Executive Committee then submitted their own list, replacing Marcus with Booth.
….Now the Wayne County Democratic Executive Committee has sued over the issue and the State Supreme Court is set for oral arguments on Feb. 5. Key to the issue, I think, is that the Republican bylaws say the three names are to be submitted to the State Committee within 15 days. If they have met that time constraint, then the State Party is simply to submit the County’s names. The local committee voted on their choices, the State committee did not.
…..I’m surprised that the Republican Party which is all about keeping local control would give that local control up to the State. I’m betting Gov. Justice’s action will be overturned.
……This process is what got me into the Legislature. When Del. Patty Bradley resigned in 1988, four people submitted their names to the Hancock County Executive Committee: former Sheriffs Joe Manypenny and Frank Rocchio, Executive Committee member Steve Kourpas and me. At the time I was the Executive Committee Treasurer and had run the phone banks during the election for Governor Gaston Caperton. The Executive Committee sent the names of the top three vote getters. Joe Manypenny received the most votes from the committee; I came in second, Rocchio third.
…..I was a little naïve when it came to the situation I was in as an appointee. The Governor brought me to the table and I was expected to vote his agenda. Only, no-one told me that part. One of my first faux paux (or screw-ups depending on what language you speak) was to criticize Caperton’s bill to create “Super Secretaries” who would serve over the existing Department heads. It created another layer of government and provided the secretaries with “super” salaries (a few were making more than the governor in the submitted bill.) I was not shy about speaking out and was quoted in a newspaper as saying the new system was “convoluted.” It was the end of my good will with the Governor for a while, especially when the headline of the article in which I criticized the Governor read “Honeymoon’s Over,”
….West Virginia needs less not more colleges. More importantly, those colleges we do have need to “stay in their lane” and not try to shore up their diminishing student populations by establishing branches in other areas where existing colleges are fighting for their life as well. For years and years and years, it has been a thorn in the side of legislators that for the population and size of our State there are just too many colleges. Many of those colleges were founded when our terrain meant travel was difficult and classes were held only in person. Many discussions were held about closing a college or two, but every time the legislature attempted to close a college, a legislator would say, “not in my district.” Not only did it not happen, but more community colleges opened and the budget pie that was once distributed among 16 colleges back when I was in the legislature is now distributed among 21 colleges.
….. But, what was supposed to happen was that each college/university stayed in it’s own lane programmatically or by locating outside its service area.
…..Enter Robin Capehart, actually re-enter Robin Capehart. A former Sec. of Tax & Revenue, Capehart was the President of West Liberty State University until he resigned in the midst of an Ethics scandal where it was found he used university personnel on his movie company and was charged with 13 violation of the Ethics Act. Capehart plead guilty to one charge and paid a fine of $5,000.00 and costs of $5,000.00 and left West Liberty.
…Two years ago Bluefield State hired Capehart as an interim president and then President. Most recently Capehart and the City of Wheeling signed a memorandum of understanding for Bluefield State to lease the old Ohio Valley Medical Center Building, now owned by the City, for programs in Engineering & Manufacturing technology degree programs to meet the needs of Northern Panhandle manufacturers. Wait, aren’t those programs to be found at WVU & Marshall University? Capehart is also hoping to lease space for food service and lodging for the prospective students. So Bluefield is coming all the way from the Southern end of West Virginia to the Northern Panhandle to shore up their enrollment numbers? I’m hoping the Higher Education Policy Committee will step to say enough is enough. We can’t afford to adequately fund the colleges we have.
…. I was so impressed when I visited the old Courier building, now home to Diane and Dale Matics. The brick which is now exposed and the large windows makes you feel like you are in a New York or Pittsburgh loft only you’re not, you’re in downtown New Cumberland with a great view of the Ohio River.
…..My love of weekly newspapers can be traced back to my time at The Courier and the Panhandle Press. I returned to the world of work when the kids went to school. The Courier was a kid and pet friendly workplace before we even knew what those words meant. Shannon was in third grade when I started and would walk down the hill from New Cumberland Elementary to the newspaper and wait until I was done so we could go home. Hugh Tate often kept her entertained while I finished up. There was a newspaper cat if I remember who perched in a chair nearby.
…..Interesting that it took someone from outside the community to see the potential of the building. Maybe we need to look at our town with an outsider’s eyes and see the promise in a structure? Are there other buildings that could be redone? I have always thought the Graham building was a great lynchpin to the community and although it’s been vacant for years I always hold out the hope that someone will see its potential. Wouldn’t a restored downtown be wonderful?
…..The decision to no longer offer Hometown News through retail sales was based on the time necessary to drive the issues to the outlets and the diminishing number of papers available to place at those locations due to the growing number of subscriptions. We hope all of you who bought your paper at a retail location each week will choose the convenience of an annual subscription for $25 print or $30 online.